McIlroy leads Open as lurking Tiger growls at mobile phones
Northern Irishman cards six under as Woods mounts charge and gives fans the silent treatment
Rory McIlroy topped the leaderboard after the first round of the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, carding an impressive 66 to lead the field at Hoylake. . The Northern Irishman, a two-times major winner, was one shot clear of Italy's Matteo Manassero and two better than a group of seven players including world No 1 Adam Scott and Spain's Sergio Garcia.
Luck – and the sun – shone on McIlroy during his round. The Northern Irishman enjoyed the best of the conditions before a stiff breeze sprang up later in the day making life difficult for some of his rivals. Nonetheless, in posting a bogey-free six-under-par round, McIlroy achieved his second-lowest round in the Open, bettered only by the 63 he shot at St Andrews four years ago.
"It's another great start and, yeah, looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow," McIlroy declared afterwards. The 25-year-old carded six birdies in his round – three going out and three on the back nine – but he appreciates there is still much work to be done if he's to win his first major since his 2012 PGA Championship triumph.
"Whenever I go out and play on Thursdays there are not really many expectations," he told reporters. "When you go back out on Friday after a good score... you're going out with some expectations. I think I've just got to approach it like that, start off trying to hit solid shots the first few holes and play my way into the round, just like I did today."
In contrast to McIlroy's polished performance Tiger Woods - champion at Hoylake in the 2006 Open – struggled initially as he made only his second competitive appearance since back surgery. Bogeying his first two holes, the American recovered on the back nine with five birdies in six holes between the 11th and 16th. Finishing with a three-under 69 leaves Woods in a tie for ninth and he later declared himself encouraged by his comeback. "I'm getting stronger, I'm getting faster, I'm getting more explosive," he said. "The ball is starting to travel again and those are all positive things."
Woods will be hoping for more respect from the press and public when he steps out for his second round later today. In 2006 he complained of disturbances from spectators' phones and cameras (which resulted in a ban the following year) and he had a similar grouch on Thursday evening. "There were a lot of cameras and we were backing off a lot of shots, it was tough.," explained Woods. "Unfortunately people don't put the phones on silent and some of the professional guys were getting on the trigger a little early."